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TGt Meets...Fiona Scott - IWD Special
In honour of International Women's Day, we spoke to Fiona Scott, Managing Director or Fiona Scott Media, to discuss what it's like to be a woman in business and why this day is so important!
Name: Fiona Scott
Occupation: MD of Fiona Scott Media
Which woman would I compare myself to?
I admire many women, however, I compare myself with none as each of us are unique. From history I admire Swindon's own suffragette Edith New; fellow Swindon journalists Shirley Ludford, Jo Smyth, Gill Harris; women in Swindon who care about our town deeply Diane Powell, Frances Bevan, Anne Messer, Lorraine Stevens and many more. In my own family I measure myself against my sister (who does not live in the town) who is the strongest woman I know - Dr Alison Rellos.
What is my most valuable skill & why?
I believe it's the ability to engage with and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life and share their stories. I genuinely don't care whether someone is famous, a multi-millionaire, a senior police officer, a homeless person, a member of Parliament - everyone has a story to tell and everyone has a voice.
Why is it important to have International Women's Day?
It's important because woman are still poorly represented in many walks of life and are still discriminated against routinely - though it tends to be more hidden these days. In the media for example, many 'experts' by far will be male and many 'victims' by far will be female. Women need to stand up and be counted and they need to speak out when they are genuinely discriminated against. We have a voice and it is valid - whether you agree with us or not. In business, women are under-represented in many sectors - two examples are IT & construction. Only women can change this.
How do I maintain a work-life balance?
This can be difficult, especially if you run your own business. I have three children at home with a loving husband and I need to be with them and to support them. There is nothing in my life which is more important than these people.
I do not shy away from this and when people send me messages asking to talk to me at 10pm or at a weekend, I will respond saying this is my family time - unless there's a very good reason to deal with it which will usually have been agreed beforehand.
I also always take some time off during every school holiday to be with them and (please don't laugh) we have a touring caravan and we go away as much as we can so that I can actually be 'away'.
One of the ways I have set up to make this work is to outsource writing and interviewing to other trusted journalists who can pick up the work for me if I'm away.
Have I ever had to give up or miss out on anything because of my career?
Yes I did. I worked full time in television - a job that I loved - when my girls were small. It was only later when I started my own business and was able to spend more time with my son that I realised how much I'd missed - and how much they'd missed me. I don't regret being a working parent but I do regret being too blind to see the impact on my family and I regret not having the confidence to be master of my own fate earlier in my life.
Do I ever experience discrimination in the workplace due to gender?
Probably. The worst thing about discrimination now is that it's less blatant, people tend to know that they shouldn't say certain things. However I have had business people comment to me on two separate occasions that candidates for jobs who were very good, didn't get the job because they were women of child-bearing age (but of course they'd never admit that). So did I miss opportunities which were denied to me and I just didn't know it? Have I missed opportunities today as a middle-aged woman - whereas no such thought would occur around a man of a similar age? I don't know.
Only recently a female friend - who is in her 30s - was approached to sell her business as she was probably 'thinking about having babies'. What is that all about?
Consider this - when was the last time you heard anyone say 'he didn't get the job because he's of an age where he can father children?'
What advice would I give to females looking to enter my profession?
Believe in yourself, don't apologise about your caring responsibilities just be upfront about them, talk about what you do and your expertise without arrogance and don't be embarrassed to do so....this is very common with women.
Also don't try to pretend you are younger than you are (again a very common thing with women). Be proud of who you are, your age, your gender, your profession.
Get qualified and follow up on any opportunity. Most people don't follow up and that puts you ahead of the crowd.
Also don't be afraid to say 'no' if something doesn't feel right - your gut is a powerfully accurate vehicle for instinct.
If I could have dinner with five inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be?
Just five? My sister Dr Alison Rellos, Oprah Winfrey, Joanna Lumley, Jenny Campbell and JK Rowling.
As a successful female, where do I see myself in ten years' time?
I've always hated questions like this as I very much live in the present. However if pushed, doing more of what I do now, having written at least one book, still putting bright colours in my hair and wearing shiny shoes, still advocating Swindon & Wiltshire as a great place to live and work, still telling stories every single day.